WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has spoken about how his eldest daughter's spina bifida has inspired him to greatness while stating a desire to secure his children's future drives him to risk his life time and time again in the ring.
The sacrifices have been many on the way to Wilder becoming champion of the world. The chance at being a professional athlete seemed lost when he dropped out of junior college in 2005 and the dream of playing college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide ended at 19, when his personal life took over.
He was scared when he learned his daughter Naieya was going to be born with spina bifida in March of that year. But just as he has proved people wrong inside the ring, his daughter did likewise outside of it, proving doctors wrong in their belief she might never walk.
He feels any sacrifices he made were repaid a hundred fold with Naieya providing motivation, strength and the support her father needed to drive himself to the next level.
"My daughter is doing wonderful now," Wilder exclusively told ESPN. "You could never tell that she has spina bifida. She still walks with a limp because she had [five] surgeries when she was a baby.
"She still has to be catheterised, but she still manages to maintain her own. She is a very strong young lady. She will be a very strong woman. She has no choice, with who her daddy is.
"I have beautiful children, they are growing each and every day, thinking about what they want to become. I am a happy father and I can't wait to secure their lives. I can't wait to do it. That is why I risk my life each and every time in the ring, to get that much closer to securing their lives forever."
Naieya, Ava, Dereon and Deontay Jr -- Wilder's four children -- are the reasons puts himself through it. He made a promise to Naieya when she was young that he would become world champion.
That dream became a reality in January 2015, when he became the first American in nine years to hold a heavyweight belt. He's come a long way since waiting tables at IHOP, working long hours and then taking to an empty gym to practice for that goal.
"I love my children to death that is why I am building for them. I am building for them. Everything I do is for them. My career, it is for them. I am going to make sure that I get everything I deserve. I am going to make sure I get the best of the best, no matter what.
"I am going to make sure they have the best of the best. That is why no matter who gets in the ring with Deontay Wilder, they will be in for the fight of their lives.
"I know for sure she [Naieya] sees the fights. She is a proud daughter. She is proud of her father, what I have accomplished, the things I have done and she is also proud that I knock guys out and come back home to her."
Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) admits he talks crap -- it's part of his boxing persona. For some it is the overriding side of his character but to simply accept him as a brash, trash-talking American boxer is a misconception.
"I got a happy family. That is what keeps me grounded and humble. Although I talk a lot, a lot of crap in boxing. I mean hey, it's a job. It's boxing. I mean what I say. I am a passionate fighter. When you have a passionate fighter, he is going to express himself a little bit different then the others.
"Somethings people are afraid to say because they don't even know if they can really deliver. They don't know if they can really make that happen. But Deontay Wilder? I love expressing myself, speaking my piece. I love saying what I do before it happens because when it does happen, I want people to say 'yo, he really meant what he said and he made sure that it happened.'"
Getting everything he deserves includes a 50-50 split with Anthony Joshua if a possible bout with the IBF and WBA champion is to come about. He adds that once his career is finished he will have gone beyond a legend to a boxing icon. But a fight with Joshua -- in the U.S. or the UK -- has Wilder purring.
"I wouldn't mind seeing that happen, to give both sides fair play, a chance. For me, it doesn't matter. I am a traveller. I like to study different cultures, be among different people. I'm not just a simple-minded person. I'm not just a person that is solely stuck on America because I am American.
"When it comes to the money part, America is the place for the money. Period. Hands down. No questions asked. Deontay Wilder will go anywhere. I just want the fight to be right for both fighters. Hey, I'm risking my life in the ring too. My life, I value it very high[ly].
"I'm not going to lower myself, to those standards. It is going to be a perfect fight, an equal fight all the way down, to the dollar of the amount of purse. Everything is going to be perfect, like it should be for a calibre of fight like this. It should be. Then see who is the best. Winner takes all."